Baan Dam - The Black House,

An Impressive Building In Chiang Rai

The Black House of Chiang Rai

Thailand is famous for its unique nature for temples and tourism. Due to its masterclass styles of buildings, Thailand never misses a spot to attract everyone’s intention. Among many mesmerizing and state-of-the-art structures, the city of Chiang Rai has two most prominent buildings. One is the temple, while the other is the museum. The museum of Chiang Rai is called “Baan Dam” (The Black House).

The Black House or Baan Dam is situated at a short distance from the center of Chiang Rai. It is an impressive building. It is a blend of mysterious nature and artistic sense. “Baan,” in the Thai language, means house or home, while the meaning of “Dam” is black. That is why Baan Dam is famously known as Black House or the Black Temple. In reality, the Black House is an art museum, not a temple. Due to its construction style that resembles a temple, it is misunderstood as a temple.

Located in the northern part of Thailand, Baan Dam is a diverse concept beyond the ordinary idea. The Black house is a museum, a home, and an art studio. The significant reason for Baan Dam’s attraction is not its beauty or its lush green area, where it is present now. The dark and dull ambiance, its goosebumps giving aura and the mysteriousness, make Black House different and unique from the rest of the buildings.


Black House of Chiang-Mai


History of the Black House

Chiang Rai’s Black House was designed and created by Thai national artist Thawan Duchanee. Thawan was a native of Chiang Rai and a student of Chalermchai Kositpiapa, the man whose creation is the famous White Temple of Thailand. The museum is a vivid reflection of the thoughts and views of Duchanee. From bizarre landscapes to mysterious houses to tiny monuments, much more is going to be discussed in this article.

The Building and Its Concept

Thawan Duchanee’s Black House was basically an inspiration that came from Lan Chang, Suvarnabhumi, and Lanna. The Black House is not just a building of charcoal black wood. It is also a representation of Buddhism in a distinctive way. Baan Dam is an assemblage of forty (40) houses that are having different shapes and sizes. Their dull black color on lush green grass gives a beautiful color contrast to the tourists. At the museum's main entrance, the largest Lanna style-based house (vihara) is placed that sets the momentum for the visitors as they start exploring the rest of the museum.

To a greater extent, everything in the house is made up of animal skins and remains. In these animals, the majority portion of the architecture is from buffalo skull, horns, animal bones, skins of tiger and snake, and wood-carved stunningly with the best precision. The use of animal remains in the construction was a creative thought and art and makes it one of the most enigmatic places of Thailand.

The Artistic Forty Houses

The forty houses of the Black House are generally made up of concrete, brick, glass, terracotta, and wood. Mostly, they are black. There is vast plain ground with trees, sculptures, and rock gardens in the surroundings of these houses.


Baan Dam House Chiang Mai


The Houses from Inside

When people enter the houses, They can witness things like a long and dark wooden table, unusual paintings, animal skins, and bones. Probably, the Baan Dam would not be a perfect place for a person who loves animals. Visitors could also see the interesting carvings that had been done on the pillars of several houses.

Interestingly, as mentioned earlier that the Black House was also a place to reside; for instance, the whale-like building is the house of Thawan Duchanee, where he used to spend time and sleep. However, this portion has been set as the remain-off area to preserve Thawan’s legacy.


Inside The Black House


The Man behind the Baan Dam – Thawan Duchanee

In 1939, Thawan Duchanee was born in the province of Chiang Rai. To study art, Thawan went to Bangkok and Amsterdam. As soon as he started designing his imagined art into reality, a conservative faction of the Thai nation started criticizing him. For them, Thawan’s art was not an accurate depiction of Buddhism. Nevertheless, his art was later supported by a leading figure of Thai society, Kukrit Pramoj. This gave Thawan the confidence that he needed, and he started displaying his art in the country and foreign lands.

Thawan’s work of Baan Dam was also criticized and was not backed by the conservative portion of the Thai nation. But, nothing could have stopped the Black House from reaching its popularity worldwide.

The Neighbour of Baan Dam – White Temple

As the Black House is located in the northern area, the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) is in the same province. Various interesting facts are being discussed below:

  • Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple) and Baan Dam (the Black House) are in Chiang Rai province.
  • The White Temple is generally described as “heavenly” for its ambiance, and the Black House is regarded as the opposite. It is a construction of darkness because of its impression.
  • The White Temple is a famous tourist attraction, while the Black House is not as famous as the White Temple.
  • The native of Chiang Rai built both iconic places.
  • White Temple is the masterwork of Chalermchai Kositpipat, while the Black House is the design of Thawan Duchanee.


The White Temple of Chiang Rai


Getting to the Black House

There are several ways to get to the Black House. One could book a complete trip from any Chiang Rai office tour. One could also hire a cab as it would save more time than other means. For a whole journey of Chiang Rai’s artistic buildings, one could hire a car with a driver.